The County Council will carry on prioritising adult social care despite unrelenting budgetary pressures.
In response to a national social services budget survey published today, the Council has pledged to continue to invest in the frontline. North Yorkshire has protected adult social care spending to a greater extent than many other councils and now spends over 35 per cent of its budget on the social care of older people and vulnerable adults.
Moreover, the County Council continues to develop prevention services at a time when other councils are diverting funds from prevention towards people with the greatest and immediate need.
Today's survey by the Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) shows that the future of adult social care nationally is critically threatened by underfunding.
It suggests that the opportunity given to councils this year to raise council tax by an extra two per cent to fund adult social care has failed to raise enough money even to cover the cost of the National Living Wage for the care sector. The ADASS survey states that this funding is nowhere near enough to address a huge shortfall in funding in the face of increasing demand.
The national survey estimates that an injection of at least £600 million on top of planned council budgets nationally would be needed just to keep services operating at last year's levels, given the rising demand for services and the need for councils to make savings.
County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire's Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration, is calling on the new Government to provide a more sustainable settlement for adult social care and for a better deal for rural and coastal communities that tend to have older populations and proportionately higher costs.
She also welcomes the recent appeal by Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, for spending on social care to be given priority. She said: "In North Yorkshire, we are passionately committed to keeping people living well and living independently for as long as possible. But more Government funding is urgently needed."
Richard Webb, North Yorkshire's Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services, who is also an ADASS trustee, said the challenges faced by councils to meet the ever-rising demand for adult social care were enormous. He said: "In a large rural county like ours the demand is rising even faster than nationally and the cost of delivering services to sparse populations is double that for councils with compact, urban populations.
"Considering that North Yorkshire has received historically low funding for adult social care and the NHS, the fact our cuts have been less than elsewhere and that we have continued to invest in prevention is a real achievement."
Currently, there are 140,000 people in North Yorkshire (out of a 500,000 population) aged over 65 of which 13.5 per cent (19,000) are aged over 85 - ahead of the national average and projected to increase dramatically in future years.
Those aged over 65 will increase by over 10 per cent by 2020 and 36 per cent by 2030. Those aged over 85 will increase by 20 per cent by 2020 and by nearly 84 per cent by 2030.
In 2016/17, North Yorkshire needs to provide for £8m of additional costs in the budget, far in excess of the amount raised through the social care precept.
Nevertheless, the County Council plans to protect the adult social care budget into the future, prioritising the frontline as well as continuing to invest in prevention. This year the Council has committed an additional £2m on prevention initiatives.
"Helping older and vulnerable people to lead more independent lives for as long as possible must be the way forward," said Cllr Wood. "Prevention services help people live more fulfilling lives and they help to keep costs down. We are investing now to support people and save money down the line."
North Yorkshire continues to develop its prevention programmes in the following ways:
- Living Well - a new initiative across the county which helps people on the cusp of care to build up their confidence to continue to live independently at home;
- Stronger Communities - an initiative which provides start-up funding, advice and support for communities across North Yorkshire to help people to support each other;
- Extra Care - a flagship programme which allows people to live in their own homes, but with care and support, according to need, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Extra Care schemes may also incorporate GP surgeries, community libraries, short break respite services and specialist accommodation for people living with dementia. Over the past decade, North Yorkshire has developed 19 Extra Care schemes across its market town, with two more being built currently and potentially up to another thirty in the pipeline. A £9 million capital programme currently underpins the initiative with more to come;
- An Income Maximisation Service designed to ensure that people who have been through a period of serious or significant illness are receiving their maximum entitlement to attendance allowance, carers' allowance and other disability benefits This is intended to increase their financial wellbeing so they are able to support themselves in their communities for a longer period of time.
"These are crucial programmes for the County Council," said Cllr Wood, "We are proud of our prevention initiatives and will continue their development."
Read the ADASS budget reportOpens new window.